Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Go-to meals: Hawiian Chicken

This is SOOO yummy and takes no time to prepare in the crock-pot! My mom showed it to me while visiting for during the Christmas break.

Put some boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a crock-pot.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (or slightly less) soy sauce
1 can of pinapple tidbits (8 oz)
Cook on High for about 3 hours

Serve over rice and some stir-fry veggies (I just buy a bag of my favorite frozen kind of stir fry veggies--cooking them in some of the juices from the crock pot when it's done cooking adds a little bit of extra flavor.) Enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Request: Go-To Meals -- Here, here!

I'm a little late on the bandwagon, but I'd like to second the request for go-to meals. We could desperately use ideas around our house these days. I'd also love to get ideas for freezer meals that turn out well; I've had good luck turning a few of the recipes on here into freezer meals (doubling the recipe, freezing half for later) but I'd love pointers, tips, or even just links to your favorites for freezing.

My only contribution in the go-to meals department isn't so much a recipe as a technique I use a lot for chicken and pork chops. For chicken, we use bone-in, skin-on pieces; for pork chops, we usually go with bone-in center cuts. The bones and skin add a lot of flavor.

In a large skillet, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (don't use EVOO or butter; they'll burn) over medium-high heat until shimmering and just beginning to smoke. Pat meat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add meat to skillet skin side down; cook until well browned (you'll know when it's ready because the meat will release easily from the skillet; if it sticks, it isn't finished cooking.) Turn meat over, cover pan with lid, and reduce heat to medium. Cook through. This usually takes no more than 10-15 minutes and can take a lot less, depending on how thick your meat is.

We love this because you can do a lot of things with it: sprinkle on any herb or spice mixture you like with the salt and pepper; top chicken with fresh tomatoes and basil, salsa, just about anything; or deglaze the pan after the meat is done and use the fond to make a quick pan sauce. If I pull a pack or two of meat out of the freezer once a week, I can whip up a couple of last-minute meals when I need them.

To go Meals: Southwest Chicken Casserole

This is the quickest, easiest casserole I've come across. It uses almost all pantry items and it's pretty tasty too! Hope you like it!

1 can chicken chunks, drained
1 can diced green chiles (approx 4oz)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups shredded cheese (chedder or mexican blend)
2 Tbsp dried minced onion
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups instant rice

I just mix all of the ingredients in a microwave safe casserole dish, approx. 9X13", adding the rice last. The mixture is about the consistency of soupy pancake batter. Cover the dish and microwave for about 15 minutes. All done!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Request: Go-To Meals

Mandy (and Matt and Maddy) let me be the first to respond.  Here are a few of my go-to meals:

Zucchini and Corn Quesedillas (you can even eliminate the zucchini and they'd be delish!)
Quesedillas are a definite go-to meal for me - the possibilities are endless.  Just use whatever beans and veggies you have on-hand (fresh or frozen)

Spiced Lentil Tacos - letils are cheap and can be stored for a very long time. And, just use what toppings you have on had at the time.

I'm also a big fan of any type of pasta dish.  Its easy to keep dried pasta and even jarred sauce on hand.  You can jazz-up your sauce with additional veggies (fresh, frozen or canned) or even some meat. You can also do a variety of baked dishes - just mix your pasta, sauce and whatever cheese you have, toss in a greased casserole dish, top with more cheese and bake at 350 until bubbly and cheese is melted (I'm guessing around 20 mins)

Omelettes are also easy, fast and can be made with ingredients you have on hand.  Sautee some veggies in a little olive oil, add beaten eggs and cook until eggs are firm - top with cheese before serving.  Serve with toast and some fruit (fresh, frozen or canned) and you've got a great meal.

And, if all else fails microwave popcorn and cold cereal are acceptable meals in my book!  Hope this helps.

Request: Go-To Meals

Like everyone else, I'm super busy this time of year and am also trying to stretch out my trips to the grocery store to see if that saves me any money.  Put those together and you'll probably find me around 4pm wondering what on earth I'm going to make for dinner.  This is where you come in.  What are your go-to quick, easy, tasty meals that you can make at a moment's notice with ingredients you probably already have on hand?  Matt and Maddy thank you in advance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sweet and Sour Hamburger

This is one of my favorite meals (as well as Josh's and Garet's). Mel requested the ingredients for it, but this is the actual recipe not the "I don't know 4 or 5 tablespoons" or "until it looks the right color".

Sweet and Sour Hamburger

1 lb. hamburger
1 c catsup
4 T. Worchestershire sauce
5 T. vinegar
5T. sugar
1/3 c. water

Brown hamburger, drain off grease. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grandma Z's Christmas Butter Cookies

These are super yummy and very rich. They freeze extremely well and can be made up a month ahead of time. They are, however, NOT a low-fat food. :)

1 cup sugar
1 pound butter
4 cups flour
1 tsp vanilla

Cream sugar and butter together then gradually add the flour. When flour is incorporated, add vanilla. Roll out 1/4" thick and cut into desired shapes. You don't want the cookies too big -- keep it simple. I use a round cookie cutter, cut one circle and then overlap the cutter to form two crescents and an oval type shape in the middle. Place on a baking sheet close together (but not touching). Bake at 225 degrees for 1 hour. Immediately glaze hot cookies.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
2 1/2 Tbsp cream

Cream together and apply with fingers to hot butter cookies.


This was affectionately named by my sister-in-law's family . . . . I would simply call it YUMMY! This is a great idea for holiday goodie baskets/plates!

1/2 Box Crispix Cereal (4 cups)
1/2 Box Golden Grahams (4 cups)
1 1/4 cup slivered almonds (I toast them, she doesn't. It all depends on your preference.)
1/2 Bag Pretzels
1 cup coconut (this is saved for the very last)

Boil the following for 2 minutes
3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup

Pour over dry ingredients. Mix in coconut last.

You can also add M&M's, peanuts, etc. . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cranberry Crumb Bars

inspired by these.

For the crust:
3/4 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour

Mix flour and powdered sugar.  Cut in butter, dough will form small crumbs.  Press into a buttered or parchment lined 9x13" pan.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 325.

For the filling:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 T flour
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce* (or 2 cups homemade cranberry sauce; I used leftover from Thanksgiving dinner)
2 T corn starch
1 T brown sugar

Beat cream cheese until fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar, flour, egg, vanilla and salt and beat well.  Pour over crust.  Stir together cranberry sauce, corn starch and brown sugar.  Pour over cream cheese filling.

For topping:
1/3 cup butter, melted
5 T brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

Combine all ingredients and sprinkle over cranberries.  Bake at 325 for 30 to 40 minutes.  Edges will just begin to turn light brown and center will be almost set.  Cool completely, about 2 hours, cut into bars and enjoy.

*You could also use a variety of different fruits here.  I think any flavor of jam would be delish. (I'd cut down the amount used and eliminate the sugar due to the sweetness) Or fresh berries (just smash them a bit and you might need to add more sugar depending on how sweet they are). I think you could even use frozen (I'd thaw first and drain most of the liquid) or canned fruit (drained).  The possibilities are endless and you can definitely appeal to the tastes of your family, friends or guests.  Let me know what fun flavor combinations you use.

Cranberry Sauce

Image and recipe from Simply Recipes 

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 oz package of fresh cranberries
1 T minced fresh ginger, optional

Wash and pick over cranberries.  In medium sauce pan, bring water and sugar to boil.  Sitr to dissolve sugar.  Add cranberries and ginger, return to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.  Cool completely and serve at room temperature or chilled.